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2010 Poetry Contest Winners

First Place
Category 1 (ages 7–10):

Coin in a Tin Cup

Camryn Mead
Claire, Wisconsin

Traveling down a long dusty road
A village I did spy
I’m thinking of a soft feather bed
So on and on tread I

Distrust on the face of each townsman I meet
I despair of finding a place
Tired and weary I knock on a door
And out peers a kindly old face

The white-haired man invites me to stay
He offers me cheese and some bread
“I know it’s not grand, but you’re welcome to share
and tonight you can sleep in my bed.”

He refuses the coin that I offer to pay
So on the table it stays
Next morning I wake and the coin is gone
Then out of the window I gaze

A blind girl is reaching inside her tin cup
Where the coin did lie
As the man sneaks away I pick up my pack
Then on and on tread I.

Second Place
Category 1 (ages 7–10):

Spelling Test

Molly Foote
Fort Wayne, Indiana

“Get ready for your spelling test,”
Said my teacher, Miss Gray.
But from the class came lots of groans
And only one said, “Yea!”

And we all turned around to look
There sat Priscilla Dowd.
She was very, very boastful
She was very, very proud.

I will spell squirrel, autograph
Precision and fairy.
I will spell monkey, beautiful
And extraordinary.

“Priscilla, spell television,”
Said my teacher, Miss Gray.
Priscilla sang, “T-E-L-A-.”
“Stop, you’re wrong,” cried Miss Gray.

Listen to this famous saying:
It’s pride before a fall!
So in the future, do not boast!
You cannot spell at all!

Third Place
Category 1 (ages 7–10):

A Humble Home

Audrey Albertson
Alpharetta, Georgia

A farmer working, not too proud
Rising before the sun
Complaining is never allowed
His work is never done

The wife is strong, heart of her home
Unselfish sacrifice
We not once hear her moan
Taking the Lord’s advice

A horse pulling loads in the sun
Working throughout the day
Never wishing his job was done
Never longing for pay

Credit goes to the Lord above
They never ask for praise
They toil the land with lots of love
Worshipping all their days

Honorable Mention
Category 1 (ages 7–10):

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

Mary Montgomery
Saint Charles, Missouri

In His agony Jesus prayed,
“Father, Your will be done.”
He was the only one awake,
His followers were done.

For us Jesus suffered the words
of soldiers and the crowd.
They scourged Him and taunted Him
In a voice big and loud.

They put on Him a crown of thorns,
A reed was in His hand.
They shouted, “Hail, King of the Jews!
We are at your command!”

Jesus took up His heavy cross,
He went on up the road.
He passed all dear ones He loved,
His cross was such a load.

He finally reached the hilltop
where He was crucified.
He is a very humble God,
Truly for us He died.

Honorable Mention
Category 1 (ages 7–10):

The Girl Must Run Through the Jesus’ Life

Christine Wang
Herndon, Virginia

The girl must run through the Jesus’ life
To understand a word
When she opens the stable door,
There was the scent of a cow herd.

A foul smell came from the stable,
Beside a holy child.
She took away “H” and “U”,
To meet a man so mild.

The man’s hand touches the lepers.
Curing the lowest class.
A man so righteuous and noble,
Healing the common grass.

While running with “M”, “I” and “L”,
The girl enters a yard.
A strong man is kneeling,
Washing feet that are dirty and scarred.

Gently carrying “I” and “T”
She sees a gruesome sight.
A dead man on a cross,
Suffering since twilight.

The letter “Y” drops from the cross,
She studies her findings.
The girl had gained precious wisdom,
Through Jesus’ kind dealings.

First Place
Category 2 (ages 11–14):

Live Again for Me

Ellen Sraders
Purcellville, Virginia

“Dear Child—I’m here—I never left your heart.
Are you done with your trying yet, my love?
Are your words ending now to let me speak?
Then I will tell you all about my truth.

“My dear, you break my heart when you cry out
My soul is wrung with pain when you forget
To turn to me and try to hold your own
And then say I’m not strong enough for you.

“My lamb—I am more than you can conceive;
But you must lean on me with everything
to see the full extent of my power
But don’t despair because you missed this chance.

“I do not need one more apology:
Don’t say you failed and need to be punished.
Don’t tell me that your soul is worthless now
Or that your life is over from this day.

“Each day you can start fresh with hope complete
You walk, you fall; I pull you up; that’s all
I give you everything you need to go
On running for the crown you will receive

“Don’t explain that you don’t deserve it now
I know you don’t: thats why I died for you.
Here, let me drown you in my mercy full
So you can die and live again for me.”

Second Place
Category 2 (ages 11–14):

A Second Chance

Lucy Alessio
Oakland, Michigan

They told me that tomorrow was the day
But I was hurting, trying not to think
Of anything, especially of him
I wouldn’t even let my thoughts go there
I hated him and hated what he’d done

In my thoughts his face kept coming back
Well, now he was where he deserved to be
They’d told me he was hoping I’d forgive
That he could turn a new leaf and start again
How can you say that after what you’ve done?

He wouldn’t let me see his face, next day
When he was brought up to the bar in court
I stared at him—what had prison done?
That figure leaning on the rail, his knuckles white
Was not my son at all—too bowed and sad

The judge’s features softened—just a boy!
His crime? Attempted theft while he was drunk
The verdict—guilty. Sentence—just a fine
I couldn’t even take the process in
I struggled with the hate and shame and pain

I knew it would be back to jail for him
Penniless, no way to pay his fine
He turned his head toward me, our gazes locked
His look was like a yearning prayer. I stood.
“I’ll pay his fine. You’re coming home, my son.”

Third Place
Category 2 (ages 11–14):

Name of Good Esteem

Jacob Eisermann
Westby, Wisconsin

The night was dark the moon but dim of light,
Then came my foe his face showed lines of strain.
A knife flashed in the night to kill a man;
In drunken horror of my misguided deed,
I sought the constable’s abode in shame.

“The gallows you will swing on till you die;
the victim’s grieving father is your judge.”
I felt the blood drain from my trembling face
Escorted to my cell in manacles,
And left to ponder my just fate alone.

The dawn came quickly ending my suspense.
A gavel rang across a barren room.
“I plead guilty, your honor, for this deed.”
Amazed was I to hear the judge pronounce:
“I hereby sentence you to New Zealand.”

Before my leave he promptly sought me out.
“I knew a man who murdered for his wage,
The judgment rendered was the same as yours.
He fully learned the error of his ways,
Became a judge, the one who tried your case.

So now I hope this change of heart for you.”
He then retired; I sailed on yonder sea.
To work on building trust on foreign soil,
And raise myself a name of good esteem.
Engraved upon my heart his mercy stayed.

Honorable Mention
Category 2 (ages 11–14):

Soliloquy

Elizabeth Platz
Shelbina, Missouri

He’s messed it up so many times before,
and now again! Should I forgive once more?
I’m trying not to lash out and hurt him
from all the hurt and anger that he caused,
but all I’d like to do is get him back.
I feel like I should punish him for how
he’s always wrecking everything. In fact,
I’d like to strangle him so he’d be gone
and wouldn’t aggravate me anymore.
But, deep inside, I know that isn’t right.
Although I know it’s not what he deserves,
the decent thing would be to give him grace.
Oh, world, what would you do if you were me?
What would you do if you were in my place?
Would you be made and turn and hurt him back?
Would you keep calm and pardon his mistake?
...what would he do if I were in his place?
Would he give me another chance or not.
I’d sure be mad if he just hurt me back.
so how do I expect perfection from a friend
who slips from time to time just like I do?
He’s just another person, like the rest
of us, and goodness knows we all mess up.
And so, I will forgive him once again
and try to stay a loving, caring friend.

Honorable Mention
Category 2 (ages 11–14):

Day at Auction

Elizabeth Cairnie
Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania

All day have I perused and watched and shopped,
A maid I need for Anne, my wife; she must
Be sharp, nice teeth, good eyes and of good stock.
Aha! Among the brats; yes, there she is.
But what is this? A child is in her lap.
He clings, he cries, she looks around the crowd.
She is the one I want, yet what of him?
Need him, want him I do not, but her eyes!
Distressed and sad, forlorn, afraid, and lost,
They cry for pity; they long for God’s help.
Her heart awaits those breaking words, those words
Are mine to say. She is prepared to part
With fruit of womb, alas, her readiness
Is that of one who faces the preordained.
With tears and sobs suppressed, she grasps her child,
Her arms, like tender vines, encircle him.
My coins or her child? Shall I be the one
To put her heart to point of sword? My God,
Good business, bah! cannot be “good” when it
Results in torment, grief, and human pain.
They shall remain together. Though my purse
Is lighter, her gratitude fills my soul.

First Place
Category 3 (ages 15–19):

The Waiting

Shannon Johnson
Klondike, Texas

The Voice first spoke into the heart of Night;
The first cold hues of chaos swept the sky.
When Time went tumbling out to the deepless dark
The curtain of the blackness fell apart.

One moment was enough to see the dream,
Something too calm and awful to be seen,
A wild, wordless whisper of a song,
That bound the ages till the end should come.

The music entered all eternity,
And broke its way into infinity,
The newborn Light went out and lit the Sun,
The Voice alone saw all that was to come.

And long before the making of the curse,
Before the first blood stained the firstborn earth,
It spoke in silence deep with the Night,
The End will come and all will be made right.

This age is ending—God calls home the stars,
The world is plagued with great and little wars
The dying sun is swollen, dim and red,
And things that once were good and green are dead.

We watch the evening twilight fade away,
The ancient earth is weary, old and gray.
The fire has spread across the earth’s dark plains,
The broken world will never be the same.

Now all the living things have shrunk and withered
The mountains tremble and the pale sky shivers
A wind has come from off the northern seas
A storm from hell to shake the shuddering trees.

The thunder of God’s wrath is drawing near
We close our eyes in hopes that we might hear,
In starry hollows long forgot and gone,
The music of that wild, wordless song.

But nothing rises from the deep abyss
No sound of music splinters this silence
We are too deep in blood and treachery
To hear the voiceless breath of ecstasy.

We are the only living ones that know,
The curse—tremendous joy, tremendous woe.
Despair is rising like an evil mist,
We never dreamed that it would come to this.

And all the summer stars are dim with tears,
For all the shattered hearts all through the years,
They fade like autumn flowers in the snow,
That sunk to sunless depths that no man knows.

The raging sea looks up beyond the sky,
And lifting up his broken voice he cries,
“Oh God of Stars, when will you make an end?
When will the judgment of the world begin?

“Beyond all sundered seas made dark with sorrow,
Beyond the sunken shadow of tomorrow,
What mercy will we find beneath the sun,
When all is done and said, and said and done?"

And do you think that heaven ever hears
The wail of broken hearts and human tears?
The voices that are shrieking in the night,
The stifled whispers of the murdered light.

Has God reversed the cycle of the world,
and sent it hurling backwards to the void?
The anguish of existence does not end,
We fail and hope and live to fail again.

And shall we somewhere find at close of day,
A place to wash all memories away?
But there are things the world cannot forget,
And there are things the heart cannot forgive.

The earth is plunging through the pathless void,
The Dark is taking hold of all the world,
And hearts that never wavered split and break,
Still screaming that it should not be this way.

The sky above is sickening with fear,
The face of Time is stained with bloody tears,
And everywhere we turn we look on Death—
We realize now that we have nothing left.

But deep beyond the barricade of fear,
Within the thunder of the storm we hear,
The Voice that called us from the heart of Night—
The End will come and all will be made right.

Second Place
Category 3 (ages 15–19):

The Grudge

Bryana Johnson
Klondike, Texas

We had a thunder in the night that came
Like evil laughter heralding the rain.
I woke and found my city half-asleep.
And I put on old shoes to walk the street.
We have too many cars here on my block,
Even in the blinding rain at three o’clock.
I know I’m not the first one to complain—
Don’t we all hate our cities just the same?

I turned to take a back-alley and found,
God, sitting in a puddle on the ground.
It’d been awhile since we’d kept in touch,
But I could see He hadn’t changed that much.
“Where have you been?” I asked Him kinda slow,
“I’m pretty sure the whole world wants to know
If God has sent us coasting down a hill,
And took off work and left the steering wheel.”

I hoped to see a fire light His face,
To kneel there conquered by a flaming grace.
God didn’t look up from the New York Times,
“Go on,” He said, “what else is on your mind?”
The sullen anger seething in my head
Exploded into wild wrath instead.
“I have a list, get ready!” I half yelled.
“When I’m done, see if you can do as well!”

I want to know why you hate innocents,
And why you feed the world at their expense.
I want to know why God has set apart,
And holds a grudge against the pure in heart.
If God is sovereign, He cannot be just,
(And I’m prepared to prove it if I must).
If God is just, He has no final say—
Judge of the Earth, you need a Judgment Day.

We had a knifing fight right here yesterday—
A good man going on his quiet way.
I want to hear you say you did not see,
It will make it much easier for me.
We have a lot of babies clean, unborn,
Unstained, and quite unwanted and so torn
With scissors in a sanitary space,
Tell me you have not seen this taking place.

What of the kids that line our nighttime streets,
And sell themselves because they have to eat?
I know you passed a few outside that store,
God, don’t you help the children anymore?
When one who loves you lets his whole world go,
Why doesn’t God, who saved Abednego,
Take His scared, trusting lover from the flame,
And bring a matchless glory to His name?

“Three times beaten with rods and one time stoned,
Thrice shipwrecked, one night in the deep alone,”
Is this the way God sees the blessed meek?
As targets for death and calamity?
The Devil roams the streets and countryside
And takes who he shall find and rips him wide,
the wretched righteous call you through the years—
Please tell me you have cotton in your ears!

God set the Evening News down in the mud,
And smiled, like I dared to hope he would.
And in that one igniting of His eyes,
Was life and death and sunset and sunrise.
All shades of stars within the Milky Way,
And all the flaming colors of the day,
The passion of the surf upon the sand,
And laughter of the ship in sight of land.

The holy joy of altar-kneeling tears,
Through all the multitude of counted years,
The sparkle of a thousand glories dead,
Hung, hovered in his smile when He said,
“You say the ‘pure in heart’—I’ve known one man
And only one since all the world began.
All outrages, all wounds to soul and skin
Pale when compared with what was done to Him.

Those hands bound, that cheek slapped upon the kiss,
That head crowned thorny,—yes, I lived through this.
Those shoulders robed in mockery and shame,
And all the hurting spitting out the Name.
That back bared, those arms stretched to take the sting!
A man can look at almost anything,
But this wrong wrongs the one that has to watch
The eye can take a lot, but not that much.

Go on and tell Me what I should have done,
—All forces of the universe My own—
Tell Me I should have held the striking hand,
And sent that legion scouring the land.
You will be right. My child, you will be right.
But tell Me what you would have done that night—
Would you have spared the blood within that heart?
And left the children crying in the dark?

I thought that I had other things to say—
The wind picked up and took my breath away.

Third Place
Category 3 (ages 15–19):

The Story that Black Lips Tell

Macy Conaway
Edmond, Oklahoma

That day, when torn from Africa’s pleasures,
I began to increase strangers’ treasures;
From heroic prince, I became forlorn
As over the raging sea I was borne.
Fellow men, women, and many a child
With which I was borne o’er the waters wild
Were locked into a space four feet by eighteen,
And forgot how ’twas to see or be seen.
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

Men from England did capture and sell us—
If any are able, will they tell us:
Is it true that with a small sack of gold
Not just our bodies, but our minds are sold?
What are the white English men’s rights, I ask,
The African man, to torture and task?
Just because I have a black complexion,
Am I then void of love and affection?
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

Sugar in cane, and tobacco in leaves
And flax for the lace on the white women’s sleeves—
This, the end toward which my countrymen toil,
With our sweat and tears to water the soil.
Our blook o’er this land British will scatter
Without thought for our value or matter.
Is not the blook that o’er England is spread
Though from an African man, just as red?
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

Oh, were my blood in Africa wasted!
T’would be better now, than to have tasted
The bitter unwilling of arrival,
Knowing not long would be my survival
Here in this land where God hears not my cry—
My only desire, now, is to die.
They thought we were brutes, but did knot know then
Their acts made them apes, but ours made us men!
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

I no longer have only defiance,
They won’t have what they want: they want silence.
Their skins appear white, but deep down within
Their souls are blacker than blackest with sin.
Our skins our dark, but the Almighty knows,
That inside, our hearts are whiter than snow.
But my chest is marked by an iron brand:
That says I belong not to God, but a man!
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

At night I dream of my sweet homeland’s shore
But wake, only to find it is no more.
I’m daily reminded of my mean rank;
In England’s world, I can never, I think
Be any more than—horrid word!—a slave.
They think not of God and the way He gave
All feelings to white men and black the same,
Ah! ’tis they that have no feelings—of shame!
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

From morn ’til dusk, and again, dusk ’til morn,
Not only bodies, but hearts they have torn
...This paper now becomes blurred in my sight,
And brown eyes make tears that fall as I write.
This tale, this collection of word and deed
Must be told; for silence causes to bleed
The flow of life out of African skin—
It must be told, yes! and told once again.
—Mark this, you English, and give ear full well,
For this is the story that black lips tell.

Honorable Mention
Category 3 (ages 15–19):

Time

Hailey Sadler
Glouchester, Virginia

Shifting, drifting, a thousand specks of sand,
Caught in the waves, and dashed against the land,
Caught back by the tide, pulled back to the sea:
Shifting yet not changing, drifting, yet not free.
Caught in a sea of days, pulled by a Tide—
Useless to resist, useless to defy—
A Tide no man is given to withstand
Only to submit, like the drifting sand.
Many may mock, yet none of them are free
From that ruthless Tide, dragging out to sea.
Every man It owns; It’s every man’s right,
Twelve hours in a day, twelve hours in a night.
The same to all: wealth it mocks to by It.
To all the same: strength cannot defy It.
The weak and wicked share alike the hour,
With the rich and righteous, naught is their power
To change Its decree, written as in stone.
It’s every man’s right; every man It owns.

Power to choose lies not in the minute,
But how it’s used, the measure put in it.
Just is the Reaper, and ruthless is He—
That which is sown is reaped eventually.
Time only gives you what you dared expend,
What was put in will be got in the end
Only that alone—neither less nor more,
To each is given on the Threshing floor.
Alike It is to all, to all this way:
Time has no preference; it is what you may
It is what you do; It is what you give.
The consequence is yours, for you to live.
For you to choose; Time will not forget:
What you've given It is what you will get.

No preference It gives, to power or race—
Each man’s story It writes on his face.
While there is youth, it’s given to deceive,
To be what is not—and others believe.
But let Time pass, and It will leave Its trace
Of what has been, on the parchment of face.
Tho guilty may escape, a while their crime,
The truth will be told by the hand of Time,
When age has gripped him with its grasping hold,
Who he has been on his face will be told.
In the creases, the shadows of the eye
Time will have written the life that passed by
Each story It pens in a permanent hand:
A life been wasted, a life that was grand...
A man who dared, a man afraid to try...
All are revealed in the lines of the eye.
No one may escape this powerful hand,
All will bear the mark of Its searing brand.

Power then to choose, is only our own,
In choosing what tale on our face is shown.
This is our right, alone ours to decide,
This alone: for Time cannot be denied.
Just is the Writer, and ruthless is He—
That which is sown is reaped eventually.
Hardness breeds hardness; joy sown reaps laughter;
Lies lived are known on each face hereafter.
How each man has lived will be then revealed,
And set, as in stone, and forever sealed.
this is the justice, the glory of Time:
It repays each deed, sacrifice and crime.
Impartial to all, It judges aright,
Repaying in open deeds done in the night.
Useless to resist; It cannot be defied,
Time’s avenging justice may not be denied.
Ours then is to live, and to live life well,
Choosing not if, but what tale It will tell.

Honorable Mention
Category 3 (ages 15–19):

The Law Within Them

Julie Green
Acton, California

There’s not a single person on this earth
Who’s lived a life of pure, unblemished worth.
Isaiah sixty-four verse six is clear
That every man falls short of coming near.
But those who’ve read in the Bible have the chance
To turn from sin and gain deliverance.
For God is very clear about His plan
To save those trusting in the Son of Man.
But all the rest, who haven’t turned to Christ,
Will have to be their own blood sacrifice.

Now what about the ones who haven’t heard,
Who live in sin because they’re undeterred?
What of the tribes who dwell in distant lands,
And do not even know of God’s commands?
Don’t they deserve to have a chance, as well,
To turn from sin and thus escape from hell?

At first it seems as though this view makes sense.
It claims that men have sinned in ignorance.
But that is simply not the way it is.
Men are bestowed from birth with consciences.
They can discern between the wrong and right,
But they prefer their darkness to God’s light.

Men are without excuse because of this,
And undeserving of eternal bliss.
They do not have a claim on any grace.
God doesn’t owe their souls a resting place.
His perfect law is written on their hearts,
As Romans two, in verse fifteen, imparts.
And since they disregarded what they knew
God’s holy, righteous judgment is still due.
And it is just as fair as it would be
If they had heard of Christianity.

Regardless, then, of where they lived their lives,
All men will give account when death arrives.
And so, no matter if they knew or not,
The law within them will resolve their lot.